Thirty four years after local sculptor Jean Doyle won a competition and was commissioned to make a statue of Just Nuisance in Jubilee Square, she restored him to his former glory after he was vandalised.
The unveiling of the restored statue took place on Heritage Day September 24 after it guarded the harbour for more than three months without its collar and cap.
The beloved Great Dane holds special memories for Ms Doyle as her mother would often see him on the train during World War II.
“My mother worked in Simon’s Town, and he often travelled on the train with the sailors,” she said.
Ms Doyle said restoring Just Nuisance was “very special” to her.
He was her first public commission, and the statue was unveiled in 1985.
Following the vandalism in May in which Just Nuisance lost his collar and cap, the Simon’s Town Historical Society offered a R5 000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits and the safe return of the collar and cap, but it was never found, (“Reward offered after Just Nuisance defiled,” Echo, May 16).
This was when Jock Dog Food stepped in and offered to fund the restoration of the famous pooch.
“We couldn’t just stand by and let this great legend remain vandalised, so we approached Jean and asked her to recreate the cap and collar and fix them to the statue so that they could not be easily removed in the future. This is our way of giving back to the community,” said Jock’s marketing executive, Liezel van Bergen.
Just Nuisance was the only dog that had the honour of being enlisted in the Royal Navy.
He stole the hearts of the sailors posted at Simon’s Town Naval Base from 1939 to 1944.
The sailors he escorted home on the train after a night out in Cape Town affectionately named him Nuisance.
Nuisance was given his first name after it became clear that the South African Railway Service was losing patience with the dog that was travelling without a ticket.
Clearly, he was not going to give up what he deemed as his duty, so the sailors petitioned their commander-in-chief who agreed to enlist the dog so that he would be entitled to the same free pass as his human counterparts.
Theenlistmentdocuments required a first name, so he became Just Nuisance.
He lived a life of adventure and flew in a plane and was known to sleep in places that would not have been acceptable for his human counterparts such as on a ship’s gangplank.
When he died, he was buried with full naval honours.
Ms Doyle, from the Doyle Art Foundry in Wynberg, is well known for her trademark of the fuller female-figure.
She has won international commissions which include the Nelson Mandela Monument at the South African Embassy in Washington and Kifangondo, Angola’s National Monument, which is considered to be one of the largest artworks on the African Continent.
Ms Doyle said her biggest challenge had been to resculpt the cap and collar exactly as the old ones.
“I don’t have the original drawings anymore and had to recreate images from the original collar,” she said.
Collections manager at the Simon’s Town Museum, Vicky Mlanjeni, took the collar to Ms Doyle’s studio where measurements and detailed photographs were taken.
The Simon’s Town Museum has a dedicated exhibition on Just Nuisance, and Ms Mlanjeni is responsible for the collection,
Ms Doyle said the original colour of the statue was a deep bronze, but the sea air had since turned it black, and she had to match the colour as close as possible. Chemicals were applied to the items to make them match the current colour, she said.
For more information about how Just Nuisance was restored, watch the two-part YouTube video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANTwFK7sfBY&t=5s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK2xHqdHGIU&feature=youtu.be